Herbalism

Spring Herbal Vinegar with Dandelion, Nettle & Comfrey

For us, the season of Spring is a beautiful and abundant time for making herbal medicine. Herbal vinegars are one of our favourite things to make this time of year and have become a real staple in our kitchen. Infusing herbs in raw apple cider vinegar is such a simple, delicious and effective way of drawing out the potent minerals and vitamins from the plants. Head out into nature and you’ll be sure to find many wild herbs that you can bring back to the kitchen. Often, we can be lured into believing that health has to come from expensive superfoods or supplements, but these wild herbs have many medicinal properties and are completely free to forage (or can be grown easily at home).

Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle
Spring Herbal Vinegar Dandelion Nettle

Although this vinegar is rich in nutrients, the main reason we make it again and again is because it tastes so delicious. It’s an amazing ally to have in the kitchen to make tasty salad dressings, blend into dips and sauces, add to soups or stews or even put on roast vegetables for a burst of flavour. Even though this is a recipe, we invite you to be creative and adapt it depending on what you have growing or can forage, what flavours you like or what medicinal qualities you’d like to include (for example, if your family suffers a lot with sore throats then thyme would be an excellent herb to add). We also have a recipe for the well-loved Fire Cider Vinegar that is amazing for fighting viruses. Below we’ve listed some more ideas for herbs/roots/ingredients that work really well:

Spices/etc
Garlic
Onion
Ginger
Orange/Lemon Peel
Cloves
Cardamom
Chilli
Cinnamon

Herbs
Dandelion leaves or root Tarragon
Mint Lemon Balm
Oregano Sage
Fennel Bay Leaves
Stinging Nettle Comfrey Leaf
Rosemary Nasturtium petal
Thyme
Dill
Chives


In our Spring Herbal Vinegar that you see pictured, we used dandelion leaf, nettles, rosemary, comfrey leaf, bay leaf and sage. Our preferred vinegar is raw apple cider vinegar because of the flavour and live cultures it contains, however you can use other varieties like red or white wine vinegar.

Method
1. Using your hands or a pair of scissors, cut or tear your chosen herbs into small pieces and lightly fill a clean jar. You don’t want to overpack the jar. Any ingredients like garlic or ginger should be finely diced.
2. Next, pour the vinegar over the herbs and fill the jar.
3. Using the end of a wooden spoon, push down the herbs and allow any air bubbles to rise to the surface.
4. Screw on the lid of your jar. Vinegar reacts with metal so using a plastic lid is preferred. However, if you don’t have this you can place a piece of baking paper between the jar and the lid (as seen in the photo).
5. Label the jar with the date and leave for 4-6 weeks. We like to leave ours on the kitchen surface and give it a shake every few days with some good intentions!
6. After 4-6 weeks you can strain the vinegar and compost any herbs or plant material. Now the vinegar is ready to be enjoyed!

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What herbs are growing near you this time of year?
Have you ever made a herbal vinegar?

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Herbal Infusions for Vibrant Health - Nettle & Oatstraw Infusion

I once read a wise herbalist recommend drinking herbal infusions instead of water and this advice has stuck with me ever since. Once I felt the potency of these infusions for myself, I understood how they could lead to more vibrancy, more energy & better immunity. Herbal infusions are also delicious, refreshing, calming, hydrating, beautifying - the list goes on, and there’s an abundance of herbs and combinations you can enjoy. We hope this post inspires you to try making your own infusion and enjoy all the beautiful herbs that are growing this Springtime!

herbal infusions

What exactly is a herbal infusion?
A herbal infusion or herbal brew is when a herb (or combination or herbs) are steeped in hot water for a long time (between 4-12 hours). Unlike a herbal tea bag, this is a strong brew, meaning that much more of the plant’s medicinal qualities, vitamins and minerals are extracted by the water. Steeping the herbs in a closed jar stops the water-soluble vitamins from escaping in the steam. It’s common to brew the herbs overnight, & then strain away the plant matter the next morning. You can then drink this infusion throughout the day, or refrigerate it and drink it within 2 days.

What herbs can you use?
There are so many delicious and nourishing herbs that you can work with. Our advice is to do some research on some different herbs in your area or that are available for you to buy dried and see which ones you feel most called to. Some of our favourites are nettles, lemon balm, chickweed, red clover, dandelion, oat straw, hibiscus, comfrey leaf, rose petals & raspberry leaf.

Recipe for Nettle & Oatstraw Infusion

This is one of my favourite infusions as it’s so delicious and mineralising. Nettles are full of vitamins and minerals like iron and calcium. It was the first herb that I infused and remains my go-to ally! Oatstraw helps regulate the nervous system and has an incredible sweetness to it. I find it such a calming and soothing herb to work with.

*note - this recipe uses dried herbs. If using fresh (which I really enjoy and recommend), then you want to use a lot more plant matter. If using fresh I will fill the jar 2/3 full with fresh herbs, depending on how much I can forage.

2 parts Nettle Leaf
1 part Oatstraw

  1. In a large mason jar (that holds around 1 litre) add 4 tablespoons of nettle leaf and 2 tablespoon of oat straw. (you can also use a French Press and adjust the amounts depending on how large your container is).

  2. Bring water to boil and then fill the jar up to the brim.

  3. Cover and steep overnight (or between 4 - 12 hours).

  4. Strain the infusion, composting the plant matter. Enjoy 2-3 cups a day. The infusion will keep refrigerated for 2-3 days.


If you have any questions regarding herbal infusions please comment below <3
Is this your first time trying herbal infusions? If not, what are your favourite herbs to work with?

Liquorice, Turmeric & Ginger Anti-Inflammatory Tea

This is our current favourite soothe-all tea. Perfect for these dark winter days and full of healing properties. The roots in this tea are both grounding and nourishing. If you’re struggling with stomach problems, a cold, cough or respiratory issues then these herbs can help your body reduce inflammation and soothe any uncomfortable aches and pains. It also tastes great - a delicious combination of sweet, cooling liquorice with the heat of fresh ginger and turmeric. We love to make a big saucepan of this and drink it throughout the day. Let’s explore some of these beautiful herbs in more detail …

Liquorice Turmeric Ginger Tea

LIQUORICE ROOT
(Glycyrrhiza glabra)

Liquorice root is a sweet herbal ally that’s rich in soothing properties. Its anti-inflammatory and detoxifying actions make it a beautiful herb to work with to help heal gastrointestinal issues, reduce pain and help heal from a cold. It’s a demulcent herb, which means it can bring quick relief for sore throats, as it forms a protective film over mucuos membranes in the mouth. It also moistens the lungs, which can help heal a cough.

Liquorice root is also a saviour for the adrenal glands - which can be put under a lot of stress during this time of year! It’s an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it helps the body regulate cortisol (the stress hormone) more efficiently. This gives our adrenals a break and helps our bodies adapt to stressful situations.

It’s quite a cooling herb, which is why we’ve combined it with more spicy, hot roots/spices like ginger, turmeric and black pepper.

GINGER
(Zingiber officinalis)
Ginger is a well-loved root found in many kitchens around the world. It’s great to up your ginger intake during the colder months of the year as its warming properties help promote good circulation & assist our immune systems. Ginger is also anti-inflammatory and helps both stimulate & regulate digestion. If you ever feel nauseous, travel sick or have cramps then ginger is a great ally to have around.

Liquorice Root Tea

TURMERIC ROOT
(Curcuma longa)
Another of our favourite ingredients, turmeric root is also warming and highly anti-inflammatory (if you’ve read this far, you’ll have noticed a theme here!). Although turmeric has been treasured in Ayurveda for hundreds of years, it has really come into the global spotlight recently for its ability to reduce inflammation and mucus throughout the body. It has also been used in various studies as a method to treat cancer. Turmeric’s bitter flavour helps stimulate gastric juices, which in turn encourages healthy digestion. It’s a wonder root with such a beautiful vibrant colour. To help absorption of turmeric’s medicinal properties, we like to combine it with black pepper…

BLACK PEPPER
(Piper nigrum)
We don’t commonly think of black pepper as having much use other than adding flavour to meals, but it’s often used in different remedies in Ayurveda. A little black pepper goes along way, & we’re probably all familiar with the heating properties of the spice. This powerful heat stimulates our digestive system and helps us metabolise food. It also helps clear congestion in our lungs/throat, so it’s great to use if you’re suffering or recovering from a cold.

Liquorice Turmeric Ginger Tea

Liquorice, Turmeric & Ginger Anti-Inflammatory Tea

INGREDIENTS (Makes 1 litre of tea, feel free to adjust amounts)
a 2-3 inch piece of ginger
1 thin stick of liquorice root, broken into pieces OR 1 tablespoon of chopped liquorice root
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric OR a 2 inch piece of fresh turmeric root
5-6 black peppercorns
1 litre of water

METHOD
1, To prepare the ginger, either grate it or crush it in a pestle and mortar. This ensures that all the essential oils are released and that the water can extract all the medicinal properties.

2. Add it to a sauce pan with all the other ingredients. Bring the tea to a boil and then simmer on a low heat for around 10-15 minutes.

3. Strain the tea before serving. If you don’t want to drink the tea all at once, you can leave everything in the pan to allow it to infuse for longer. If the taste becomes too strong you can add extra water.

4. Relax and enjoy!


What’s your favourite type of tea to make during Winter?
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Fire Cider Vinegar - A Herbal Remedy for Winter

Happy New Year everyone! We hope 2017 is full of health & happiness for you all. On a personal note, we're both feeling really excited for the year ahead. New plans, ventures & ideas are making us feel inspired and ready for this new cycle. This hopefully means even more creativity in the kitchen & the garden! 

We've loved experimenting with herbal recipes during the past few months. I'm talking herbal oils, honeys, vinegars & infusions...there's so many delicious possibilities. This fire cider vinegar is well-known in the herbal community, and it's a wonderful remedy for all the viruses & colds that are circulating at the moment. Full of immune boosting & anti-microbial properties from the apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion & turmeric, a tablespoon of this mixed with raw honey is an amazing way to fight off illness. It's also a delicious addition to soups, stews & dressings.

Fire Cider Cold Flu Herbal Remedy

The key to the this recipe is chopping everything up as finely as possible. The apple cider vinegar will slowly draw out all the healing properties from your ingredients & herbs - leaving you with a potent, medicinal vinegar at the end of the process. Feel free to adapt the ingredients to suit your taste buds! 

Fire Cider (Adapted from Rosemary Gladstar)
Ingredients:
1 medium sized glass jar
1 onion, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
4 tablespoons of grated ginger
1 tablespoon of grated turmeric root (or 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder)
A small handful of rosemary
A small handful of thyme
4 whole peppercorns
Raw apple cider vinegar (with mother), to fill the jar
optional extras - a small chilli for extra spice, horseradish, orange peel, parsley etc

Method
1. Fill a sterilised jar with all your ingredients and add enough apple cider vinegar to cover. 
2. If your jar has a metal lid, place a square of baking paper between the jar/lid. This will protect the metal from being eroded by the strong vinegar. 
3. Place on a windowsill or a warm spot and let it sit for around 3-4 weeks. We shake our mixture every now and then, & check how the smell develops over time. 
4. Before it's ready to use, you'll need to strain the vinegar and discard the herbs (hopefully onto a compost bin!)
5. Enjoy, heal & store your vinegar in a cupboard (where it should last for a long time)

Fire Cider Cold Flu Herbal Remedy

If you enjoyed this post, please share below <3
What natural remedies do you use during cold/flu season?